Monday, May 30, 2011

What More Can I Give

This time of year the Jacaranda trees which line the entrance street to Forest Lawn, Glendale are in full bloom, raining down purple, creating a royal carpet for all who enter the gates. American flags are flying on street poles, their bright red and white stripes creating an outstanding eye catching contrast to the purple everywhere. The beauty of God’s work over whelms me and I feel the need to capture this moment in time, before proceeding into Holly Terrace to visit Michael. So I stop my car and hop out to snap a few pictures. 

It is Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. There are American flags out in cities all over the U.S. This is a time to honor those who have served in the military for our country and who fought and died for our freedom. These brave soldiers are being honored in churches, parades and cemeteries. My own parents fought in WWII, my father a 1st Lieutenant in the Army in both Europe and Japan, and my mother, also a Lieutenant WAC, WWII Nurse in Europe. My brother bravely fought in Vietnam and my nephew now serves in the Navy. I hold so much pride and gratitude for all who have served in the military. I know on my own parents graves American flags are proudly and gratefully flying this weekend. 

On this Sunday the day before Memorial Day I felt the need to visit Forest Lawn. The American flags line the entrance and when I arrive there is no one present at Holly Terrace. I can’t help but think of how Michael loved this country with all his heart. No matter what came at him or how he was slandered… he loved God and his country. How he stood proud and sang “What More Can I Give” after 9/11. How he just cried when the first black president was elected into office. How other presidents honored him and befriended him. They all saw the real Michael Jackson. 

Soon my wonderful friend who I haven’t seen for what feels like at least a few months now joins me and we immediately pick up right where we left off. The conversation always flows so freely about many things but always ultimately ends up about family and Michael Jackson. Soon others arrive to pay respects to Michael Jackson for their first time, having traveled from San Diego, Texas and other areas. It never ceases to amaze me the varied generations that LOVE Michael Jackson, from very young babies to the elderly. Many are present today at Holly Terrace. Old friends also arrive and hugs are shared and it is so good to see so many familiar faces. Today we stay until the sun hits the Ascension windows and lights up the end of the hall and the crypt where Michael is laid to rest. It is my favorite part of the day at Holly Terrace, where the darkness leaves and light spills in around Michael.

Before leaving for the day we make sure to visit Elizabeth Taylor’s burial spot with the beautiful Angel standing above. We stay for the show which displays a beautiful stained glass replica of the Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper" and look closely at the artistry of Michael Angelo’s exact replica statues of Day and Night, Dusk and Dawn and the La Pieta. It all reminds me so much of Michael. His favorite times of the day being dusk and dawn. The master’s work he loved so dearly and admired greatly so close by to where he lays is not lost on me. Both my friend and I smile as we realize Elizabeth Taylor, forever the actress, will forever be present at the entrance where the curtains are drawn and the show plays daily.

Today I am reminded of one of my first stories I wrote for my beautiful, kind friend, Bonnie from MJ-Upbeat.  For all those who have never been to Forest Lawn, Glendale and Holly Terrace or may not ever be able to travel here, I am re-posting this story below as it was written and posted in January 2010, with only a few minor changes, in the hopes it will help you to feel a bit closer to Michael at Holly Terrace. As one fan that was visiting on Sunday said through her tears, “This is the closest I will ever have gotten to Michael.” 

January 4, 2010
MJ – Upbeat Poster’s Journey to Holly Terrace
I feel blessed to live close by Holly Terrace so I thought I would share today’s visit and the MJ-Upbeat Poster’s journey to Holly Terrace.

It is Sunday, January 3, 2010 and although it is January the sun is bright and warm and there is a brilliant blue sky. It doesn’t feel like winter but like a warm spring day. Many wonderful Southern California Michael Jackson fans are visiting Michael Jackson today to show their L.O.V.E.

The main entrance to Forest Lawn, Glendale, California is a huge imported arch way of filigreed wrought iron and it is still decorated with a giant Christmas wreath for the holidays. It brings to mind the Christmas wreaths MJ would put out for Blanket and the children all year long, which hung on the gates of Neverland and the Carolwood home. Somehow it seems very fitting for it to still be there.

Holly Terrace is up the road and around a bend and as you begin your journey up the lane off to the right is a gorgeous pond with Greek type statue of a beautiful woman with a baby in her arms. The birds chirp every where and one delicately lands for a drink on the floating Lily pads as I snap a picture. Every where you look you are reminded of children. It seems so fitting for Michael Jackson.

I make my way up the small hill and curve around the bend and there I see to the left the back side of Holly Terrace. This is where Michael Jackson rests just inside this wall on the upper level, under the beautiful stained glass window. The light hits the window at all times of the day creating a glow inside the mausoleum just over Michael’s crypt.

The Great Mausoleum is straight ahead. It is a large castle like building with an intricate stone bridge connecting it to the building where Michael Jackson lays. Below is a picture from the Forest Lawn web site as I forgot to capture the picture of the Great Mausoleum from the front. This picture faces the stone bridge and this is where Michael’s hearse took that long heart breaking drive the day of his funeral. Just under the bridge on the left is Holly Terrace.

Here at the Great Mausoleum entrance etched in stone is the Builder’s Creed written by the man who founded Forest Lawn cemeteries. There is an adorable statue of little children with their dog, as well as a breathtaking large statue of Jesus with the little children. I am reminded of Michael in an interview saying “I will never stop helping and loving people the way Jesus said to. He said continue to love, always love, bring on the children, imitate the children, not childish but childlike.”

I make my way under the stone bridge and up the small hill and park at the Sunrise Slope curb just outside the stair way to Holly Terrace. The view looking out over the hill from Holly Terrace is filled with beautiful trees and reminds me of Michael when he spoke in TII about how much he loved trees.

There are already several fans gathered. I retrieve the MJ-Upbeat poster from the back seat and make my way up the entrance to Holly Terrace. I am greeted by Heidi, Robyn and so many others from Michael Jackson Fans of Southern California Face Book Page. It is so wonderful to talk to others who love Michael Jackson.

I offer the pen to some of Michael's fans so they can sign the MJ-Upbeat poster and then my new friend, Robyn, holds it up high, as I march down the road to get a picture of the poster and the Holly Terrace balcony from a distance.

More fans are arriving and both adults and children are very happy to be able to write a note to Michael on the MJ-Upbeat poster. I met Michael Jackson fans from New York, Texas, Japan and I believe it was France and Germany. A wonderful lady who came with her two sons from Japan brought a large bottle filled with 100’s of origami swans and handed them out to the fans with a large portion still left in the jar for Michael.
Southern California fans who had been in touch with other fans from around the globe kindly brought items that had been mailed to them. They were all placed at the entrance door to Holly Terrace for Michael. Many had sent pictures, cards and drawings they had hand made, sketched, drawn or painted from all over the world conveying their love and loss of Michael, some from children as young as six years old. Fans arrived throughout the afternoon with flowers and cards. We were told the Christmas tree and all the gifts left in December were inside at Michael’s place. All today’s items too would also be taken in by security at the end of the day.

Someone brought an IPOD and small speakers and Michael’s music is playing. His voice is echoing thru the porch area and just about everyone is singing along. We all know the words to each song even as they fade out at the end we are still singing along. We laugh together. It is beautiful. We all take a turn looking inside the window. It is difficult to see anything because it is very dark inside. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust and if you cup your hands just right you can at first see the lights along the corridor and then the stained glass window at the very end. You focus and then there it is. You can just make out Michael’s beautiful marble crypt at the very end of the hallway under the stained glass window.  

Here is a small picture which was not taken today but by someone else. It shows the inside much clearer than any of us saw today with the exception of one very blessed woman, but that is another story which I don’t feel free to share. Let’s just say it was a very rare, moving and spiritual experience for her.

There was beautiful little girl there, I believe her name is Lisa, who reminds me of the Michael’s TII Earth Girl. She is so precious and loves to help her mommy ready the flowers and other mementos they leave. My heart melts every time I see her looking through the glass to see Michael. It was sad and at times heart wrenching to feel the deep loss; but healing and uplifting to spend a simply beautiful day sharing Michael’s L.O.V.E.

Thank you, Bonnie, I was blessed to represent on behalf of MJ-Upbeat.

by Betty, Lisa and MJFSC

Thanks Lisa Burkes

Dear Betty,
Thank you so very much for representing MJ-Upbeat and all the fans who visit this web site. You have made us feel as if we were actually there. What a beautiful and heartwarming day. Michael must feel the love as he looks down at his resting place and watches as everyone gathers together in honor of him.
I hope someday I will be able to come and join you at this very special place.
You've described it as a type of heaven with the trees and the birds, the statues and all the beautiful scenery, but most of all, I look forward to meeting all the fans and spending time reminiscing about Michael.
Thank you again Betty.
From the bottom of my heart.
Love Always,
Bonnie Lamrock
I would also like to thank Jessica for the use of her beautiful photo used for the poster.
Thank you Jessica. :-)


Monday, May 9, 2011

Dove of LOVE

I have a Dove of LOVE who comes to visit me. His first surprising visit came last year only days after the Doves of LOVE Release over Forest Lawn on the anniversary of Michael’s death. I was not looking forward to this day of heartache; however what that day on June 25, 2010 became for me was simply a celebration of the life of Michael Jackson in a way I could have never imagined.

My God is a God of miracles. I know when many people hear or read the word miracle they may think of the blind seeing and the lame walking as in the Old Testament but I have come to believe in and look for the everyday wonderful uplifting and reassuring little miracles in life, signs of hope and reassurance that God is alive and well amongst us right now TODAY in the world we live in.

My dove who I have now named, Michael, comes to visit, and by no coincidence, only at times when I need reassurance and confirmation the most. He is my very tangible sign from the Lord that I am on His assigned path... a path that the Lord set me on around July 2009. For it was about this time that words began to fill my mind, heart, soul and being in an ever expanding, over flowing, overwhelming way. I found myself scribbling phrases and descriptive comments on slips of paper wherever and whenever they hit me because I felt I could no longer keep them all inside. There were simply too many, I had to write them down and express them, capture them and the more I wrote the more came to me. The words, thoughts, writings rolled through my mind unceasing, day and night; always about Michael. 

I remember looking at my son and his girl friend, two of the most amazing people, and feeling like I was going to burst as I heard myself blurt out “I know it may seem as if I have gone off the rails and I haven’t written in years but I HAVE to write. I simply HAVE to write. I have to write about Michael Jackson!” It was the last part of that statement I thought might make them wonder. At the time I had only just begun to reveal to my family how deeply I had been affected by Michael’s death. I had never been an adoring "fan" of anyone except the Lord Jesus Christ who is and was and will always be the main man in my life. I remember them looking back at me with an incredulous look like I had just grown two heads and glancing at one another like “What? What do we do? What do we say to this?” I could see them questioning my sanity. I laugh now about that moment in time and gratefully know they not only support me but encourage me in my writings and LOVE for MJ. They understand my need to fight the wrong inflicted on Michael in his life, to share the truth. This is my passion, my assignment from the Lord, to share about my Michael Jackson adventures and in some way touch the lives of those who can not be here in Southern California in a way that helps them feel as though they are traveling along on my adventures, providing some small avenue of healing in the loss of Michael Jackson. 

Sometime around April 2010 I found myself joining forces on a mission for Michael, a labor of love called “Doves of LOVE Release” set to take place on June 25, 2010. Our mission was to release 400 white doves over Forest Lawn to honor Michael Jackson. I anticipated this day would be filled with many tears, pain and much heartache as fans from around the world arrived at Forest Lawn, Glendale to relive that terrible day one year earlier. As I have said many times “I will forever be counting backwards from June 25th, 2009”. That was the day that changed lives around this planet, the day when Michael Jackson died and an unmistakable, unfillable void was felt around the world. However as in all things Michael since June 25th, 2009 there are bitter sweet emotions that weave their way through our hearts and lives. Surprisingly this day was no exception and instead of sadness we celebrated with the most incredible joy. We laughed, cried and shared about the man who brought us all to this place in time. LOVE draped Forest Lawn this day, a tangible real entity which moved throughout the gathering of fans touching hearts and lives the entire day.

June in Southern California is a very hot time of year, the air that day was hot and very heavy but the sky was bright blue and our spirits were high and electric. Embarking on  a mission of LOVE for our king we were committed in a genuine spirit of L.O.V.E. for Michael Jackson to make this event a reality. I had faith it would take place but daily the obstacles seemed almost insurmountable. The final verdict from Forest Lawn officials and also almost too happily touted by the media was “No doves would be allowed to be released for Michael Jackson any where on the Forest Lawn property.” This announcement came only days before the event which left our plans in shambles and us totally in the lurch. We began frantically searching to no avail for somewhere to release the doves so that the contributing fans would not be disappointed and we could honor Michael in a beautiful way.  There simply was no where except Forest Lawn that was appropriate. We forged on.

Their denial of a peaceful dove release for Michael only ran home the fact that this MUST happen. We would not allow yet one more time that Michael be slighted. Not giving up we dug our heels in and continued to search for a way to make this happen. We were not only banned but the police were out in full force to make sure the rules would be adhered to. 

The end result was all involved, which numbered about seven main people at final count including the dove man himself, and then another seven or so supporting MJ fans gathered very incognito at an inconspicuous gathering place very close to Forest Lawn. The dove man even went so far as to cover the sign on the side of his truck so officials would not be alerted to the dove’s presence. We all made our selves as un-Michael Jacksonish and casual as possible. It was all very 007. There in a small secluded parking lot just out of the eye shot of the media and the police the helpers unloaded about 20 large rattan baskets, as we all rebelliously giggled, whispered, hid from the press, communicated by cell phone and laid our plan of action into place, with all the team members arrival and the destination decided the doves were tightly strapped to rolling carts. We all walked nonchalantly in small groups down one side of the street and up the other until we were in place on city property, not Forest Lawn property, but planted directly in front of Forest Lawn. As we deliberately made our way to our destination we all prayed the entire time that no one would stop us and tell us we could not be there. Passers by in cars stopped and quizzically asked “Are those the Doves for Michael Jackson?” We looked at them like we were clueless and said ‘Huh? What? Where? Us? Oh no... there must be a wedding.” They doubtfully responded “Oh yeah, right”, gave us a knowing smile and moved on. 

What could have been a very sad day was filled with so much L.O.V.E., so much JOY and many, many smiling happy faces abounded everywhere. It was a day blessed by God and filled with Michael’s LOVE. Somehow I also felt like Michael would have loved our undercover prankster-ness. It never fails to amaze me how LOVE envelopes all that surrounds Michael Jackson. As if he is still here touching each of us in his own very special way. I know that the Lord is in charge, he is my God, my King of Kings but I do believe that he allows Michael’s LOVE to continue to bless each of us here on earth who love and miss Michael. On this most special day the LORD showed himself mightily as he rained down his grace over us for Michael with a giant message of pure LOVE filled with utter JOY. I remember clearly looking across the street at the media after the Doves flew and even the media were smiling in awe. Tears from MJ’s fans came yes but the smiles always followed because you simply can not think of the joy, LOVE and beauty that Michael Jackson shared with this world and not smile.

In a stealth like mode we arrived at our destination just outside the gates and walls of Forest Lawn and casually but quickly unloaded all the baskets placing them in a long straight row on the side walk, the openings facing toward the main street. Each kept tightly closed until the moment of release. It was a perfect setting on this hot summer day as we all stood in a line Soldiers of LOVE just under the beautiful, purple blooming Jacaranda tree, which seemed so fitting for the King. Across the street the typical hordes of news media camped out waiting for anything Jackson to happen. A few came over and asked questions, one in particular, a camera man from TMZ seemed to smell a Dove story, but we had all agreed that no one, simply no one would breath a word about what was in the baskets. We all kept mum. You could see people shaking their heads "No" to him and “No comment” or “I’m not sure what you are asking about” could be heard up and down the line every time someone from the media would ask. A huge sign which read in bold letters: “King of Pop, Michael Jackson" and in big red letters "Gone Too Soon” was unfurled and held up in front of the baskets protecting them from prying eyes and cameras. We kept in touch with someone in the Jackson camp as they attended the service for Michael inside Holly Terrace and stayed on top of when they would be leaving. After the service they graciously greeted fans who gathered from all over the world shaking hands and kindly taking the time to share greetings. We had managed to inform them of the Dove Release and were told they wanted to see the doves fly. We stood eagerly waiting, adrenaline pumping, anticipating the ‘go’ signal. The Jackson camp gave us word they were leaving and on their way down to the main gates. Soldiers of LOVE we stood prepared, at the ready. 

Upon the Jackson's caravan exiting at the main gates they stopped, lowered their windows and watched as 400 white doves were simultaneously released for Michael. As Janet, Randy, Tito and all the Jacksons there that day watched within only seconds the giant sign was raised revealing the baskets, the lids were lifted and the doves flew. The sight of these majestic birds of peace and the sound of their wings purposely, yet gently and powerfully flapping, the whoosh of warm air as they flew right by my face was absolutely surreal. There is simply no way to explain this experience except to say “anointed” by God. As the doves were released you could hear cries of "We LOVE you Michael!" 

The doves flew straight out of the baskets and then inexplicably turned right toward the Jackson family. The Jacksons smiled, waved and thanked us and turned their caravan right and moved on down the street accompanied over head by 400 white doves as if it were all exactly planned to happen that way. It was such a huge blessing to know that our efforts brought a smile and look of awe to the Jackson's and hundreds of fan's faces on such a difficult day. 

The doves seemed to fully understand and acknowledge the importance of their flight as they flew with the family to the end of the street where the Jacksons then turned left to head toward their destination. As if saying goodbye to them the doves then lifted their flight and flew the opposite direction, flying up into the blue California sky and back toward Forest Lawn. The sight in the sky was simply breathtakingly beautiful. 400 white doves glistening in the mid-day sky, flying in unison toward the resting place of our King of Pop. I need to interject here that the dove man said that his doves are not trained to release this way. They never turn right and come back, they usually fly out straight and then up and around in an ever increasing circular pattern to find their bearings and then head home. On this day Michael’s doves however turned right and flew with his family down the street, then flew up and back towards Forest Lawn where they then flew in four ever increasing large circles over the Mausoleum and Holly Terrace. Then they turned and headed for home... all except for one lone dove. This lone dove, according to many who were present, instead of traveling with the group perched itself up on a tree over looking Holly Terrace. There he sat for some time watching until he too flew up and making a lone final circular flight over Holly Terrace, as if to say a final farewell, flew toward home as well. All the doves were reported as arriving home safely within a couple of hours or so of the initial release including the lone dove.

I will never forget this amazing experience and the people who joined in this effort of LOVE for Michael Jackson. This day will never be duplicated and I am so grateful to have been there to experience this day of LOVE. God had his hand on all that took place for Michael with the doves and again this shows the anointing of God on Michael Jackson, His chosen ambassador of LOVE in the modern world. I feel so blessed to have lived in Michael’s lifetime, to have seen his true heart of LOVE in action on this planet, to have had my life filled with his music and creativity on a daily basis. Those who love and know the real heart of Michael Jackson are never surprised by stories like the Dove Release. He touched this world, every continent on this planet with his music and his LOVE. God honors those who honor Him and God has honored Michael in truly miraculous ways. 
So it was that only a few days after this glorious event as I was feeling still draped in so much LOVE, awe, wonder and blessing that I found myself out in my garden talking to God as I often do when out of no where a dove flew down and touched my shoulder then hovered before me for what seemed like at least a full minute. Now at the time I had lived in my home for 24 years and never in all that time had a dove flown into my backyard, let alone flew down and touched me. I was startled and astonished to say the least. I just stood Speechless, unable to move or react. At first I thought OMG a dove didn't make it home but this dove was a pale-pinkish taupe color not white like Michael's doves; I have been told most likely a Turtle Dove. I just stood still in awe wondering how on earth this was happening. This beautiful creature just flew before me gently flapping his wings then just as suddenly flew to the apple tree next door that over looks my small yard and perched on a branch where he sat looking at me. I felt as though I needed to say something to my new guest so I asked “Well where did you come from?” He just sat there looking at me, coo-cooing. He was magnificent. He glowed in the sun light. I told him “You are beautiful” as I couldn’t think of much else to say as I stood riveted watching him. He stayed for a minute or so more and then he flew off as I listened to his wings flapping. It was such a comforting sound similar to the one I had heard only days before and right there in my own backyard. I kept thinking I should have said more but what do you say to a visiting dove? For me this was an amazing confirmation that my involvement in the Doves of LOVE Release was God’s plan for me, an amazing gesture of gratitude, a thank you. I always look for and cherish God’s signs of confirmation and direction in my life. For me this was definitely one.

Then recently this last March almost twenty-two months since Michael’s death the fans had sent out a Call For Love. I immediately felt the urging of the Lord to help. I wrote a plea for Peace and LOVE on my blog called “Will You Be There?” and felt a prompting from the Lord to cross bridges of unforgiveness and reach out and encourage LOVE as Michael would have wanted. My plea, which you can read here on my blog, requested the MJ fans gather at the courthouse in peace, unity and solidarity. Again only a couple days after this blog article was posted I was out in my garden and the dove again unexpectedly came to visit me. I stood in the exact same location as his first visit but this time he flew down under the tree and then back and forth in front of me as if talking to me. Then he flew to the same apple tree, perched there again for awhile but this time cooing more loudly like he really had an important message for me. Again I felt total confirmation that yes I am on God’s path of LOVE for Michael Jackson. I would like to say I carried on some sort of dialog with my dove but again I was so astonished with my visitor I found it hard to speak and felt I didn’t want to ruin the moment with my inadequate words. So I watched him for the most part wishing with all my heart I could speak "dove" and then finally said “Well hello there. I have missed you. You are so beautiful.” And then as he flew away I said, “Goodbye”.

Now this last week I began once again to feel the prompting from the Lord to write… to write about the Doves of LOVE Release which I did not write about last year for reasons that are no longer relevant. The words and thoughts about the day began to fill my head. I always pray about what I write, so when I was in my usual place in the garden a few days ago and my dove paid me yet another cherished visit it was confirmation I must share about my Dove of LOVE and the Doves of LOVE Release from last year. To me it is no coincidence or as I like to refer to them, Michael-incidence that this dove would visit me every time a project of LOVE for Michael takes root in my heart. Every time I take the risk to reach out in LOVE to do something to make that change for Michael Jackson in this world.

I look very forward to the next visit from my beautiful dove friend, Michael, and like all other visits from my Dove of LOVE pray it will not be the last and anticipate the next visit will also be at the most unexpected time. God bless all who read this and your families, may we all be blessed by God abundantly and always walk and treat each other with LOVE... for as Michael said...It's All for LOVE....L.O.V.E.!

“Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--
and the greatest of these is LOVE.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Male Dove, Michael, forefront on branch of my tree. Behind him the female in the leaves.

UPDATE 2/15/12:
This post was originally published on 5/9/11. Now all these months later my dove still comes to visit me. Many times I have thought maybe he was gone, flying off somewhere else to nest. Like God's messenger of LOVE that Michael always was he always show up at the times when I need it most. Unexpectedly and always a welcome, uplifting surprise. He also now has a mate and they come to visit me together... she always stays just a bit behind, he always in the forefront.

Just last week at a very down moment in time for me, just when I needed reassurance very much, Michael the Dove, landed on the edge of the roof in my back yard and then swept down past my sliding glass door to say hello. I was delighted, amazed and intrigued as always. He flew right down to the sliding window and drew me outside then continued on flight past my Giving tree to the Apple tree in the neighbors yard, his favorite perch, landed and just looked at me. There he lit and just there behind him was his beautiful mate. I can't even begin to express how much my spirits were lifted. Nothing else mattered as I stood watching and listening to them coo.

He is just beautiful. Still a glistening pale pink, taupe color and his mate just a bit lighter. She has been with him now for sometime. This is not their first visit to me together. He seems so proud of her. They both sat up on the branch cooing at me for the longest time. Then blissfully, peacefully flew away together. The sound of their wings flapping in the air filling my heart with God's comforting presence. God's purpose for me on this earth may still be a mystery except to say I try as best I can to follow God's will and not swerve too far off God's desired road for me; however for these two beautiful creatures most certainly their God given purpose is to shower LOVE, peace, joy and beauty where ever they visit. I thank the Lord for my very visible, tangible confirmation of His everlasting LOVE and protection in my life. I so look forward to the next Michael Dove visit.

I just received this video via email made by a Russian MJ fan. So incredibly beautiful evoking so many thoughts of my sweet Michael Dove of LOVE.
Thank you Marta and Mado.